Moundville Archaeological Park Community Pavilion

Framing the Final Form

The Moundville Community Pavilion team has been mastering the art of sawing and lifting some hefty beams to turn the overall form into a rectangle with four flat planes. Before edge framing could be done, X bracing and “shove it” joists alone the edge were installed to literally “shove” the trusses as needed to create perfectly parallel bays.

Once all of the trusses were pulled and shoved to be parallel to one another, the team began to turn the diamond shape of the diagonal truss lines into a rectangle. String lines on the ground were plumbed and projected onto the trusses to put up edge beams between trusses, creating a rectangular edge. Strings were then pulled to find the correct angles of the sloped and skewed cuts.

The form is beginning to take shape with the long side beams up!

For the beams along the short end, connecting at the corners, the cut had to be a 60 degree angle. This had to be cut on the face with a circular saw and then finished with the reciprocating saw to get through the entire width of the board.
For the long edge beams spliced together and the ridge beam, an extra layer was added by needing to cut through two pieces of wood to ensure the right dimensions.

Then came time for the much-feared corners, that surprisingly went up without many complications using the ground strings, existing lines formed by the edge beams, and a brace to secure it won’t sag until joists can be installed.

October was also a busy month of work and celebration with the Park’s 31st annual Native American Festival occurring from the 9th to the 12th. The team had the privilege of taking a break from construction and volunteering for the festival, while meeting and talking to vendors, visitors, and the Native American community that had a lot of positive feedback and excitement for the pavilion!

And before everyone knew, it was Halloween! With all the excitement of the Native American festival and the headaches of turning a diamond parabola into a rectangle with four triangular planes, costumes were (admittedly) scrambled together last minute. However, we still think the team and personalities were accurately portrayed!

Check back in soon as we begin roof joists this week!

Live and In Person

In Moundville, the last few weeks have been focused on securing the structure. This time gave the team the incredible and unique opportunity to experience the scale and space of the pavilion live and in person to test future design decisions including paving, benches, and ceiling cladding. And a new semester brought new students and some much needed and appreciated help to Moundville! This August, instead of participating in neck-downs, the team got to meet some of the new 3rd-year and 5th-year students as they worked on site for the week.

Neck-downs came at the perfect time in Moundville; with the structure raised there was plenty to do to secure and brace the structure and move into framing and testing design decisions. Throughout the week, over 200 pieces of 2×8 lumber were moved from various barns in Newbern to Moundville, X bracing was constructed in each truss bay, the columns were bolted to the trusses, columns braces were removed and deconstructed, the last two columns forming the “A” were installed, and both the wood shop and site were cleaned of all debris. The Moundville ladies could not have asked for better help or a more productive week! Here are some images of the fabulous workers that came out to Moundville and some of the tasks that got done in the past couple of weeks:

Bracing the columns in three directions was structurally necessary to ensure that as the trusses were placed, the columns didn’t shift or collapse under the wind force with the truss weight. However, they also caused a huge impediment with moving within the structure with the scissor lift. As soon as the columns were secured and bolted to the trusses, bracing was installed between the trusses with 2x6s securing the top and bottom chords and forming an X in between. Once the bracing was completed for each bay, the columns could be freed (except for the braces securing the smaller trusses, to maintain stiff corners). This provided much needed space for the scissor lift and a chance to see the delicate profile of the columns in real life.

X bracing connecting trusses 2 and 3.
X bracing on all truss bays.
The first opportunity to see the delicate profile and touch of the columns within the framework of the space.

Stay tuned for updates on how the team took advantage of “design-build” to test bench mockups, ceiling cladding, and paving schemes using the scale of the built structure. Here are some sneak peaks!

Raisin’ the Roof

With things picking up in the Studio entering fall semester, convocation, and neckdowns, we were working with a tight deadline for when the boom truck was booked to raise trusses before the chaos started. 

While building the trusses, we did a series of physical and sketch studies to test column composition and location and hardware for the splices. Once the trusses were finished, we moved into column construction focusing on how to make the three plys as tight as possible and create a structural and aesthetically pleasing screw pattern.

Moving between the woodshop building columns and site, we began to place and steel feet on the column footings and drill holes for anchor bolts. We located each footing focusing on centering them along truss lines so that the truss can slide into the column. We then set the threaded rod using apoxy and set leveling nuts to ensure the steel plates were all sitting at the same height.

Truss raising day finally came (after weeks of stress dreams and some long days). With the generous help from West Alabama Mechanical and United Rentals for a scissor lift and man lift, we were able to get all of the trusses up in a day! Seeing the structure raised and beginning to understand some of the spatial aspects of the pavilion in real life has been a big boost in the project for us.

Thankful for the BEST clients (we’ve said it before and we’ll keep saying it because it’s true) and some incredible community volunteers who believe in this project and love Moundville!
The men “helping” (but really, we couldn’t do it without them!)

The Big Event

The population of Hale County tripled on April 27th, 2019 for the annual Pig Roast; a day to celebrate the collective work of the studio and the “graduation” of the current fifth year teams. At least 100 cars, carrying family and friends, caravaned around Hale County to get a brief update on each of the current projects. The caravan visited 11 projects in 11 hours, kept on schedule by our own drummer boy, Alex Therrien.

We were the first stop, at 9:00am sharp. With only 15 minutes to present, it was quite a challenge to decide what we wanted to show. After briefly thanking those who have supported us, we introduced the project, and then allowed people to meander about the site to experience the ceiling mockup and visit boards scattered throughout that went into details on certain aspects of the project: community involvement, the history of the park, structure, and construction process. We also had the newly completed truss on site to show the start to the project!

With empowerment from Anderson Inge and our professors here at Rural, we dove head first into the real world and built a 1:1 truss, in one and a half days. The truss is an accumulation of the knowledge we’ve acquired from scaled structural tests and intuition. It was 4’ in depth and 44’ long, it took a village to move it by hand from the workshop to the 16’ trailer and then over to site where it rests safely. We’re looking forward to running some structural calculations on it in the future.

After our 15 minutes of fame we hopped into the caravan and had a jam-packed and amazing day exploring and learning more about the work done by our peers. In the early evening we landed back in Newbern, in the amphitheater. We ended the day with music, a roasted pig, and a “celebration” of the students (through mockery).

To sum it up for you all, our year level is a little boring, a little exclusive, and like each other a little too much. As a team, we’ve been dubbed the sass queens of Rural Studio. In addition to telling anybody who will listen that we are an all girls team, we’re hard working, confident, and determined; we don’t tolerate any BS (Andrew’s words not ours). It was an evening full of laughs, friendship, and celebration ending in a fireworks show of epic proportions. We loved having our families experience some of the magic here at Rural Studio.

What’s next? With our diplomas in hand we’re all heading off to our new lives and jobs! Just kidding, of course. Now that the heat has arrived in Newbern, we’ve been sweating for a few days in Red Barn to hammer out a few final decisions before moving onto the construction site!

Sincerely, your favorite recent Auburn grads: the Moundville Ladies

Four Ladies and Some Power Tools

After Pig Roast, as we waited for final building approval from the Park, University of Alabama, and the represented Native American tribes, we jumped head first into detailing and learning the ins and outs of Enercalc, a structural engineering software, to go over with our consultant Joe Farrugia.

As we continued to study and make decisions on the aesthetics of the visible structure, we were also able to check and balance the structural requirements based off of the loads we recieved from Enercalc. These loads factored in the weight of structure, environmental factors (rain, wind, a small snow load, etc.), and structural qualities of Southern Pine lumber, our building material.

We built 1:1 mockups of possible footing details, looking at multiple factors such as column profile, distance from the bottom of the wood to ground, steel profile, steel width, bolt placement, and screw type and distribution. We spray painted plywood to represent the actual steel which will be galvanized (this actually tricked quite a few classmates that swore it was steel when they first saw them).

Once approval came in, we kicked July off with the craziest batter board set-up we’ve seen in our short careers. We laid out the roof outline first to ensure that we located the pavilion perfectly within the site. However, since our structure is all on a diagonal we pulled a skewed rectangle based off of the first truss line to locate all of the column footings accurately. After 3 days of fighting with the site’s hard dirt and building “extra” reinforced batter boards, we were successfully able to mark out all concrete foundations and have them dug with rebar placed ready for the pour the following week.

And within a week, we had our concrete footings!!

Concurrently, we ran the numbers on the structure and accurately spec’d each connection for the columns and trusses (we’re waiting for our structural engineering degrees, any day now). Once everything was 100% Joe-approved, we presented to Jim Turnipseed of Turnipseed International Steel who graciously provided all of our threaded rod, washers, nuts, and splice plates!

And viola, three weeks later and we have 5 beautiful trusses and 12 columns built and ready to be moved to site (column pictures to come)! Somewhere during that time we also squeezed in design work progressing the paving under the pavilion and we got our steel feet back from Turnipseed International and Super Metal Works here in Newbern.